Goldberg vs. Kelly

The upshot of this lawsuit is that welfare is property. Welfare is not a gift or a benevolent token- it is property no different than a car or a house. Albeit the property is held in the network of social connectedness of the people and the state. Here’s a summary of the case.

Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970), is a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires an evidentiary hearing before a recipient of certain government welfare benefits can be deprived of such benefits.[1][2]

The Goldberg decision set the parameters for procedural due process when dealing with the deprivation of a government benefit or entitlement. The Court held that a person has a property interest in certain government entitlements, which require notice and a hearing before a governmental entity (either state or federal) takes them away. Government-provided entitlements from the modern welfare state increased substantially in the United States during the 20th century. The Goldberg court decided that such entitlements (like welfare payments, government pensions, professional licenses), are a form of “new property” that require pre-deprivation procedural protection and so did away with the traditional distinction between rights and privileges.

US Supreme Court Washington DC circa 1970

So to put it another way, if you are a member of a group (most probably a formal one) and you fall into a set of circumstances that have been determined to engage a resource, upon taking possession of said resource it becomes your personal property. The community held capital is internalized by the individual. Doesn’t it seem like capital which is put to use in social groups would have a name something like social capital?

If everyone in the group understood it in these terms, it seems that more people would value being a member of a group that had the capacity to make good on such promises. Often people focus on private property as a measure of wealth and well-being. But isn’t the right to tap a resource particularly when one is on the outs a valuable asset as well? There’s a case to be made for a state that has a generous capacity.